Posted 3 years ago in Trending, Loop Locals
3 MIN READ – During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s been said that one of the safest ways to get around for essential trips is by bicycle. With that in mind, Chicago’s bikeshare system, Divvy, operated by Lyft, has worked with the Chicago Department of Transportation to offer discounts to anyone and free annual memberships to critical healthcare workers. With a program like Divvy, it’s easy to feel like bikes are waiting for you by some kind of magic. But a crew of boots-on-the-ground workers is to thank.
One of those workers is Darnell Horton, station maintenance and technician, who is celebrating his five-year anniversary with the company this month. Horton is employed by Motivate LLC, which is the service provider to Lyft for Divvy operations.
“I’m an outdoorsy kind of guy; I like being outside,” Horton said. “When the opportunity came up for me to be interacting with people, that’s something I like to do, instead of just being stuck in a warehouse or something like that.”
Horton’s responsibilities run the gamut from keeping bikes and docking stations clean, making sure station kiosks and the docks themselves are operational, and installing new stations as the Divvy system expands. Now more than ever, he’s spending time cleaning bikes on a daily basis, saying no bike in the system goes uncleaned each day. He said he enjoys the variety in his responsibilities, and he rides a bike, himself, to get around.
“That was my only means of transportation at one time,” he said. “It’s a really good way to get around, and you save a lot of money, too.”
Horton rides bikes with his son and attends block parties in his North Lawndale neighborhood that Divvy has sponsored for two years in a row.
“I bring the bikes to the neighborhood, and the kids ride for the day,” he said. “We have music, and Divvy supplies me with hot dogs and things like that.”
While the Loop is much quieter than usual amid COVID-19 and the resulting stay at home order, Horton still loves working downtown because of the variety of people he sees.
“The Loop is a wonderful place,” he said. “You see all nationalities, all types of different people. In my neighborhood, it might be people I grew up with and people I’ve known, but when you go in the Loop, you get to experience people coming from out of town, people coming from different countries. They might be lost, so when they ask for directions you get to say, ‘Yeah, I’m a Chicagoan, I can help you.’”
And especially in a time like this, Horton is proud of the work he does, and proud that it’s been deemed essential by the stay at home order. He said he was flattered and humbled to be recognized by Chicago Loop Alliance as the Loop Employee of the Month.
“We got an email from corporate about how we were recognized as essential workers, and it made me feel like we’re a part of the city continuing to go on,” Horton said. “We’ve got a lot of people still moving and needing to get to where they need to get to. So I do feel proud about that thought. I’m playing my part in keeping the city running.”
Photos by Organic Headshots
Do you know someone who works in the Loop and deserves recognition for the great work they do? Nominate them for Loop Employee of the Month. Find more information on award selection, rules and conditions, and a full list of prizes, here.
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